"Kyo no Miyako"(京の都)
Photographs of Kyoto by Seiryu Inoue(井上青龍)

When the Edo Bakufu government wanted to relocate the Japanese capital to the city of Edo, they changed the name to Tokyo-to. Literally this means Eastern Capital City, as opposed to the true capital city of Japan, Kyoto.

Having spent a long weekend at the Kyoto Art Fair recently I could sense the locals' pride in their city. Tokyo is of course the greatest urban agglomeration in the world. Yes, bigger than Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Mexico City, London, New York. But Tokyo has an inferiority complex as regards Kyoto. Or should we say Kyoto has a well-earned superiority complex over Tokyo in cultural and historical terms.

Seiryu Inoue is best known for his photographs of homeless day labourers, drunks, prostitutes of the streets of Kamagasaki, the poorest district of Osaka. He brought his perceptive and sympathetic eye to the opposite end of the scale of Japanese life, to the refined culture of Kyoto in the 1960s and 1970s.

To me, these photographs of Kyoto are entirely consistent with Inoue's better known works from "Kamagasaki" or "Hokkiko" (北紀行-"Return to the North" - photographs of the tragic post-War repatriation of Korean ethnic residents of Japan to North Korea). Just as in these other series, Inoue had the instinct for where to look, to show the critical detail that captures a telling moment that encapsulates the greater story of the place and the time.

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